What Is Imperial Jade?

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Imperial jade is a gemstone with an intense green color and a long history in China, where it has been revered for centuries as the royal gem, or “yu.”

1 Types

Nephrite and jadeite are the two types of jade, with jadeite more highly valued for its color and rarity. The finest jadeite, imperial jade, comes from Myanmar, formerly Burma.

2 History

The use of jade dates back more than 7,000 years when people used the tough stone to make weapons and tools. Imperial jade has been China's royal gem since about 3000 B.C., when it was carved into objects, figurines and furnishings for the graves of members of the imperial family.

3 Significance

Jade is a symbol of beauty, wisdom and goodness. The stone is also said to personify Confucian qualities such as compassion, justice and courage.

4 Benefits

Nephrite jade is believed to heal the kidneys, but both types of jade are considered powerful healing stones. Jade is also said to protect ancestral spirits when uniting the living with their ancestors.

5 Fun Facts

Members of China's imperial family were buried in suits made of intricately carved jade during the Han Dynasty of 206 B.C. to 220 A.D. Commoners were never allowed to be buried in jade suits.

Paula Pennell is a former newspaper publisher, editor and reporter, whose work has appeared in community newspapers and newsletters in Georgia, Florida, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. She attended Truett-McConnell College in Georgia, where she majored in English literature before landing her first newspaper job more than 16 years ago.